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Dru

first ascent [TR] Mount Outram- Ghost Passenger (FA/FWA East Face) 3/12/2005

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Climb: Mount Outram-Ghost Passenger (FA/FWA East Face)

 

Date of Climb: 3/12/2005

 

Trip Report:

I have been scheming to climb the East Face of Outram for a couple of years now. The large, gullied face is hard to see from most roads but you can get glimpses from some other peaks, and the view from Snass (Justin Brown has some awesome shots on bivouac.com) is quite impressive.

 

In August 2003 Fred Touche and I hiked up the standard route on Outram and I took a look see down the face and deemed it possible.

 

In 2004 Merran and I hiked in in May planning to go up the standard route, drop down a gully at the S end of the e face and climb back out up another gully. However this approach, due to weather and also the fact that all the gullies are too steep to be comfortable descents, failed and we ended up bagging the standard route once again.

 

I know Justin and Jordan also made one attempt and had the same problem.

 

For 2005 I decided to head in via the old Ghost Pass trail and up the creek draining the east face. I gleaned some beta on this approach from the usual online sources and prepared for windfall and thrashing. The nice descent down the standard route means the best climbing choice is to carry over bivi gear and I packed accordingly. No stove, cold food, two tools, crampons, a few jacket layers, a -7C sleeping bag for a possible long night bivi and a 3/4 length z-rest.

 

I parked at the wooden marmot around 12:30 on Saturday and started hiking the Ghost pass trail. this leaves the old Engineers' Road about 2 km east of the Outram Trail and cuts over the ridge into the valley of Eighteen Mile Creek. The trail was overgrown and had lots of windfall but wasn't as hard to follow as I had feared it would be. After about three hours of hiking I left the trail and cut up an obvious side valley towards Outram. By the time I reached treeline it was getting near dark and I was tired. There were lots of possible lines so I elected to bivi overnight and make an early start instead of picking one line and giving it by headlamp Fred Touche style. There were no real flat spots to bivi not covered in wet snow but I found a good hollow in the ground, filled it in with dead branches and laid the z-rest down on that; it was quite comfortable.

 

For some reason all I could think of all night long was zombie movies and wild animals. I had found fresh cougar tracks not far from my bivi site when approaching and kept waking up in the night in a state of mild panic whenever the wind blew through the trees.

 

Around 5 AM I got up, packed my bivi up and got out of the trees onto the approach slopes to the east face. The face is a very large one with numerous gullies, and is composed of a long face on the SE ridge, and a higher face directly below the summit, in a bit of a cirque. Because of the slanting valley and ridge slopes pretty much all the options on the face are about 400 to 500m high and there are at least a dozen unclimbed gullies here, They pretty much all had a mix of ice and snow in them too. It was hard to make a decision but I ended up heading up to the headwall, mostly because I couldn't see it from lower in the valley and didnt want to pick a good looking line only to find out that the headwall had better lines that I couldn't see.

 

357eastfacesunrise-med.JPG

 

East face at sunrise from treeline near bivi

 

357icegully-med.JPG

 

Unclimbed gully with WI3? step

 

357narrowcouloir-med.JPG

Narrow and potentially mixed unclimbed couloir line.

 

 

When I got up into the east face bowl there were three options... a shady, scary looking couloir and chimney line with chockstones on the left, an open face with a couple of vertical water ice steps in the middle, and a slanting line on the right. The slanting line looked the easiest and had the smallest cornices above it so that was what I chose. It had one narrow kink but most of it looked like snow climbing.

 

357efaceheadwall-med.JPG

 

East face headwall. Arrow marks line climbed. NS and SS are north and south summits (I had no idea where the summits were when I took the photo). Details might be too small to see in thumbnail, in that case check the gallery.

 

I climbed up into the couloir and the climbing turned out to be awesome with well-frozen neve and little bits of ice where seepages from the sidewalls came in. It was mostly 45 degree climbing with short steeper steps. There was a constant flow of 'hail' on the gully bed as ice fell off the sidewalls and broke up, but almost nothing larger than golf ball size...only two fist size chunks came down and both of them bounced well clear of me.

 

357inghost-med.JPG

Looking up the gully from near the bottom.

 

I was not climbing too fast and I was also worried about the cornices. The climbing was fun but I wasn't enjoying it much. I came around a corner into the kink I had seen from below and found a 25m step of 70 degree WI3. After climbing this I got above most of the falling ice and the snow relented to 45 degrees again.

 

A few hundred meters higher I got close to the ridge exit and came very close to a big looming house sized cornice. Fortunately the cornice line was not continuous. I picked a line up to where the lip was amost non existant, and although the angle steepened through 50 to almost 65 degrees (tools over head) the exit move was only vertical for less than a bodylength. I pulled onto the ridge to find I was exactly half way between the two summits, which was the point I had been aiming for, but did not know I was about to arrive at. Also, the ridge between the two summits, which is Class 2-3 rock in summer, and that I had thought might be scary and double-corniced, was pretty much a broad easy walk. Almost immediately on topping out my fear went away and I felt a great sense of happiness and relaxation.

 

357tracks-med.JPG

 

Tracks on the ridge with north summit behind.

 

By the time I got to south summit it was probably 11:00 or 11:30 AM. I drank the last of my water, ate some PowerGels and took a few photos before starting to descend.

 

357sumallovalley-med.JPG

Rideout and Payne - Sumallo Valley

 

357viewwest-med.JPG

Mt. Grant, Eaton Peak and Cheam Range behind.

 

The uppermost slopes were pretty wind-blown and icy, then as I went lower the snow softened and the temperature rose. I shed crampons and layers as I descended and even got in some good glissading. It is a very long way back down to the highway (almost 2000m) which I reached around 2:30 for a car-to-car time of 26 hours or so.

 

Obviously that includes a 12 hour bivi and so theoretically a day trip is doable, but if I did it again I would still biv in order to get good early morning snow conditions. The approach is not onerous but does take about 5 hours all told.

 

Since there are so many other unclimbed lines on the face I decided to give the climb a name to distinguish it from other routes that will later be done. I ended up calling it "Ghost Passenger" since the approach is via the Ghost Pass trail and because I was somewhat scared for a lot of the climb.

 

The overall difficulty is probably Grade III, Alpine Grade AD+, WI3 and snow to 65 degrees. The climbing felt quite similar to Central Couloir on Joffre, not as sustained and no rockclimbing exit but with a slightly harder crux than existed the one time I climbed CC on Joffre.

 

Gear Notes:

4 screws, 2 pickets and 2 pins would be an adequate rack for a party of two.

 

Approach Notes:

Via Ghost Pass trail, 4-5 hours in. Plan on taking bivi gear up and over.

 

Food notes: cheeburga_ron.gif

In 26 hours I ate 5 powergels, 1 halvah bar, one chocolate bar, a couple of fruitleathers, and a sesame snap packet. I think this is the least amount of food I have ever eaten on an overnight trip. Certainly for most of the climb I did not want to eat at all. I'm still not very hungry. it is possible thatt if I had eaten more and had higher blood sugar levels I might not have felt so scared, I have noticed before that I start to get spooked sometimes when climbing and not eating.

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I ended up calling it "Ghost Passenger" since the approach is via the Ghost Pass trail and because I was somewhat scared for a lot of the climb.

 

Don't forget the zombies, maybe those played into the chosen name a bit? tongue.gif

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I kept wondering what "Shaun of the Dead" would have been like if they'd had DMM Predators instead of cricket bats.

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The climbing was fun but I wasn't enjoying it much.
Hmmm, I'm still working on this concept.....

 

Good TR. thumbs_up.gif

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Sweet! That gives me some motivation to skip my Friday class and head up! thumbs_up.gif The joys of being a student.

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Justin Brown went up Snazzy on Tuesday and took this nice photo for me laugh.gif I added the arrows.

 

445050-closeup.JPG

 

As you can see the unclimbed lines on the left, are much longer. bigdrink.gif

445050-closeup.JPG.3e21b6e7b6eb701f88e40aab022b75e8.JPG

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Unfortunately the weather didn't look that good on Friday so I didn't get the liberty of skipping class and trying anything. cry.gif

 

Nice photo though.

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Might as well add this pic to the thread since you bumped it:

 

451409.jpg

 

Route takes the right hand most shaded corner

Corners to left are unclimbed

10 yr anniversary coming up, same snow/lack of snow conditions

 

Repeat? New lines to left? I'd be out there right now if I wasn't working.

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